Luther junior researches role-playing simulation in the learning of modern languages

August 14, 2018

Understanding foreign cultures and global citizenship can be a struggle for some students. Peder Smith, Luther College junior of Brainerd, Minnesota, is creating, along with Luther’s Nordic studies research team, historically based role-playing simulations in order to stimulate and to engage students in the learning of modern languages.

Smith, the son of Andrew Smith of Hastings, Minnesota, and Suzie Smith of Brainerd, is a 2016 graduate of Brainerd Senior High School. He is majoring in Nordic studies at Luther.

Smith is working with Anne-Marine Feat, Luther associate professor of French, and Maren Johnson, Luther assistant professor of Nordic studies, on the project, “Reacting to the Past.” Other contributors include Nordic studies and French students from Luther and education students from the University of Agder in Norway.

For the “Reacting to the Past” (RTTP) project, Smith and the Nordic studies research team are developing two games revolving around Asbjørnsen and Moe, two Norwegian storyteller collectors, and French Huguenots seeking refuge in Denmark. Throughout the project, Smith has contemplated the full impact of this project, reflecting on being a member of a school and community brimming with Scandinavian heritage. He believes,”Researching Scandinavian history and how it’s used by students learning in a classroom setting can only have a positive impact.”

The importance of RTTP research such as this arrives out of the general goal of the game: student engagement with global citizenship. These goals are exemplified through the simple act of working with a diverse research team. “This research project has given me the opportunity to work with other bright students who share similar academic interests with me, as well as with professors who are excited and passionate about the project. Working with the Norwegian students who traveled to Decorah to be members of our research team was the most interesting part of the project. It was wonderful to get to know them and hear their perspective regarding ideas, perceptions and concepts,” said Smith.

Smith, Feat and Johnson’s collaboration is one of 30 summer student-faculty research projects funded through Luther’s College Scholars Program and Dean’s Office. The Student-Faculty Summer Research projects provide students an opportunity to research topics of interest alongside Luther faculty. This program is one of a wide selection of experiential learning opportunities that are part of Luther’s academic core and intend to deepen the learning process.

A national liberal arts college with an enrollment of 2,050, Luther offers an academic curriculum that leads to the Bachelor of Arts degree in more than 60 majors and pre-professional programs. For more information about Luther visit the college’s website: http://www.luther.edu.